Obici did right in arsenic situation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 20, 2004

Obici Hospital officials are deserving of praise for their conscientious handling of the elevated levels of arsenic found recently at the site of the old hospital.

Milton Johnston of the Department of Environmental Quality told the News-Herald that since the arsenic is not considered waste (It’s not waste until its disposed of), the hospital was under no obligation to report its presence, and since the levels were so low and localized around the old pipes, it never would have been found by DEQ officials.

Despite that, hospital officials took it upon themselves to do the right thing – to report it and make a plan for removing the contaminated substance and soil.

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When that process is complete, the site of the old hospital will be back on the market. When it is, the City of Suffolk should jump all over it.

It’s the best piece of property along the 460 corridor and the potential uses for it boggle the mind. What’s not needed there is another car lot, which was the original plan, or another stretch of Suffolk’s precious downtown waterfront populated by fast food chicken joints and garages.

City spokesman Dennis Kraff said Friday the city is interested in the property. City officials, if they are not already, need to be making a plan and holding discussions with the hospital so that they are prepared to act fast.

If they sit on their hands, a great opportunity will be lost. And who knows, Gregory Sakas, who just opened the controversial, sexually oriented Intimate Desires store, might want the property for an Intimate Desires Supercenter.